The evolution from traditional classroom learning to e-learning

Learning new skills and knowledge is pivotal to development of individuals and to the wider society. The educational landscape has altered with technological advancements over the past century. We learn in various different methods today, as we would have done in the 20th century. We have come to rely more on technology for our learning experience rather than the traditional method of sitting in a classroom with X amount of students. The Internet has proven to be a rich source of information, which can be accessed at a click of button with your desktop or smart device.

The 20th century represented an era of knowledge transfer and students being textbook driven to reinforce what they had learnt in class. Practicing their knowledge by answering questions from a textbook or pre assigned from the teacher. Classroom activities were typically reliant on knowledge transfer with one teacher speaking with numerous students accompanied by a black board and chalk.

Students were typically required to work alone on projects and answer questions individually. The learning was designed to assess an individual’s ability and knowledge of each subject rather than ability to work as a team to collaborate and generate the superior project/answer.

In the 21st Century teaching has progressed to an engaging and collaborative environment within the classroom where students are encouraged to explore learning outcomes and develop a concept of their own. Students are often encouraged to work in groups and collaborate on projects or tasks.

Learning materials are becoming increasingly accessible online in the form of supporting materials and mock exams. Students are instantly gaining access to vital learning material to help them in their work. The Internet has brought a wealth of information at a click of a button. The classroom traditionally consists of one teacher, a group of children, a white board and a board pen accompanied by textbooks. The knowledge transfer happening within the classroom is typically not recorded whilst the student learning is dependent on their ability to take notes and understand what is required within the allotted time.

The learning environment is no longer solely within the physical classroom. Students continue their learning and development outside of the classroom on the World Wide Web.

Learning methods continue to evolve replicating the real working environment outside of the classroom. Tasks and assignments will become increasingly reliant on collaboration within real working environments designed to utilise the strengths and weaknesses of students outside of the classroom. Previously this may not have been possible outside of the learning environment due to the feasibility of all students having the ability to meet at a central location. However, the Internet brings tools designed to remove the need to travel allowing to meet and communicate in one central location without having to leave their place of residence.

We increasingly see more courses going online and becoming an e-learning environment where distant learners have just as much flexibility as local learners. The Open University, in the UK, is designed to reach out to students who either struggle to meet traditional classroom hours or are incapable for one reason or another to attend a university lecture. The Internet has provided students with a direct route into education.

WebRTC begins to further the learning capabilities not only for distant learners but also for local learners. The capabilities of WebRTC provides an extensive learning experience beyond that of solely listening and/or reading. Students will have the capability to collaborate in real time on documents and projects. A tool such as the Drum widget can be embedded into any website or portal providing instant communication/collaboration functionality. The learning experience will evolve into a fully collaborative environment for students and teachers, available at a click of a button.

WebRTC will be the future of teaching and learning new skills.

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